Word of the Day

Word of the day

Friday, August 06, 2021

apopemptic

[ ap-uh-pemp-tik ]

adjective

pertaining to leave-taking or departing; valedictory.

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What is the origin of apopemptic?

The English apopemptic is a straightforward borrowing of the Greek adjective apopemptikós, “pertaining to dismissal, valedictory,” a derivative of the adverb and preposition apό- “off, away” and the verb pémpein “to send,” a verb with no clear etymology. The Greek noun pompḗ, a derivative of pémpein, means “escort, procession, parade, magnificence,” adopted into Latin as pompa (with the same meanings), used in Christian Latin to refer to the ostentations of the devil, especially in baptismal formulas, e.g., “Do you reject the devil and all his pomps?” Apopemptic entered English in the mid-18th century.

how is apopemptic used?

As Opal Codd said sweetly my last day, her apopemptic word for me was “agathism.” Once again, I could do no more but ask her to translate. “My dear,” she said, “apopemptic! Pertaining to farewell, of course.” “Of course. But ‘agathism’? A belief in Agatha Christie?”

Gillian Roberts, All's Well That Ends, 2007

For you the gods of song forgo their quarrel; / Panther and Wolf forget their former anger; / For you this ancient ceremony of greeting / Becomes a solemn apopemptic hymn.

A. D. Hope, "Soledades of the Sun and Moon," Poems, 1960

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Word of the day

Thursday, August 05, 2021

tohubohu

[ toh-hoo-boh-hoo ]

noun

chaos; disorder; confusion.

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What is the origin of tohubohu?

Tohubohu, “chaos; disorder; confusion,” comes from Hebrew tōhū wā-bhōhū, a phrase occurring in Genesis 1:2, and translated in the King James version as “(And the earth was) without form, and void.” Tōhū wā-bhōhū is an example of hendiadys, a rhetorical device in which two similar words are connected by and to express a single idea, here emptiness, void. Tōhū means “emptiness, waste, desert, vanity, nothing.” Bōhū is traditionally translated as “void, emptiness”; it is used in Genesis for its paronomastic or rhyming effect. Another example of hendiadys comes from the Gospel of Matthew (7:14): “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,” which was later misinterpreted to be “straight and narrow (path).” Tohubohu entered English in the first half of the 17th century.

how is tohubohu used?

What we have in poetry, it appears, is poetry in a vacuum, which is even worse than poetry in a Salad Shooter or a hot-air corn popper. There is no consensus about the culture, and therefore no common ground on which poets, critics, scholars, students or even readers (are there any left?) can share assumptions and discuss with some coherence the great questions of life and art.

To suggest this tohubohu in a manner that may be unfair but is quick, efficient and vivid, let me cite a few blurbs from the pile of poetry collections on my table …

David R. Slavitt, "Passionate Intensity," New York Times, February 12, 1995

The Atlantic declared 2015 “the best year in history for the average human being,” a laughable departure from our recent state of political and pandemic-born tohubohu.

Lauren Puckett-Pope, "An Exclusive First Look At Lauren Groff's Matrix," Elle, April 1, 2021

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Word of the day

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

penetralia

[ pen-i-trey-lee-uh ]

plural noun

the innermost parts or recesses of a place or thing.

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What is the origin of penetralia?

Penetralia, “the innermost parts or recesses of a place or thing,” comes straight from Latin penetrālia, the (neuter plural) noun use of the adjective penetrālis “inner, innermost, interior,” a derivative of the verb penetrāre “to penetrate, gain entrance, cross.” The Latin words are related to the preposition penes “under the control of, in the possession of,” the adverb penitus “from within, from inside,” and the plural noun Penātēs “the guardian deities of the Roman larder or pantry” (deep inside the house), who were regarded as controlling the destiny of the household. Penetralia entered English in the second half of the 17th century.

how is penetralia used?

He wished to be what he called “safe” with all those whom he had admitted to the penetralia of his house and heart.

Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers, 1857

Lounge chairs have sprouted up in yards and driveways like propagating agave, and many of us have migrated from the penetralia of our backyards to porches and lawns.

Maria Neuman, "Why America Is Rediscovering the Social Front Yard," Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2020

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